Do you think it’s funny that we say, “Happy Halloween”? Isn’t the point of Halloween to not be happy? To some degree, the point is to be scared out of your wits at least a couple of times. Of course, as a kid the candy had a very happy affect on me, so maybe happy is the right greeting. I’ve never been one who enjoyed that scared feeling. Some people absolutely love it and crave movies and entertainment that always keeps them on the edge of their seats. There is something about that feeling of panic...that something is about to happen but you just don’t know what. Maybe it’s the adrenaline coursing through our veins, or maybe it’s the tingling nerves that tell us it’s time to fight or flight. Whatever it is, I’ve never craved it all that much.
When I was younger, I had little discernment over the types of entertainment I engaged in. My parents had been very discerning and I think when I got my independence, I wanted to see how right or wrong they were. We still don’t agree, but I’m much closer to their view on things then I am to my own view on those things from many years ago. I think it has something to do with having your own kids. Who knows.
Anyway, my wife and I were high school sweet hearts. On one beautiful fall afternoon, we decided to go see one of the Alien trilogy movies. I don’t remember which one. All I really remember is that after getting about 12 minutes into the movie, I decided that the sheer terror of the moment required me to stop breathing for the next 2 hours until the film was over. Who needs oxygen? The intensity they created without actually showing you anything, was amazing! The music. The creepy guy with a gun who wants to shoot something. The cute but stupid female character who walks down the corridor in the dark chasing a strange sound and asking, “Billy...was that you?” All of it had us both on edge.
The scene I remember most happens about mid-way through the movie. Some guy is walking into a dark corridor looking for the “beast” that is reeking havoc on their minds. At this point, only 1 or 2 mildly gruesome deaths had occurred, so it hardly seemed like we had a thriller on our hands. For several minutes crew members are shown walking the space craft in the dark, looking for the creature. The tension culminates in one character searching ducts above his head saying out loud, “Here kitty, kitty. Here kitty, kitty. Nice kitty” as he walks under a large opening in a roof vent.
You know what happens next.
The music stops. The camera pans up to a large ceiling vent. And....nothing. Nothing but a little steam comes out of the vent. I was waiting for the jump scene. I was tense with anticipation. I was hoping my girlfriend didn’t think I was too big of a baby just because I had crawled under the seat in front of me...lots of people do that in movies!
The crew reassembles in the dining hall and eats a meal while planning their next search. There is terror. There are arguments. There is a bit of panic. The meal ends, the last conversations are over and the janitor begins cleaning up. At this point, I decided to end my two-hour no breathing policy and released the death grip hold I had on Traci’s hand. We both almost laughed at how tense things had been up to that point and that finally we had a mome...
Out of the ceiling an Alien drops down, sucks up the janitor, and I soiled myself!
It was fast. I returned to my no breathing policy and decided my girlfriend might be an alien and I should probably stop holding her hand.
When the movie ended and we left the theater, I was seriously amped up. I had been so freaked out during the movie. I think it might have been one of the last freaky movies I’ve ever seen. In fact, I tried to watch it a few years back on Netflix only to discover how horrible the language was and how desensitized I must have been to some of that stuff. Yowzuh. I don’t think I got more than 15 minutes in before I had to turn it off. That, and I was already freaked out again and I realized I was drafting a 2-hour no breathing policy I was about sign.
All of us have experienced sheer terror at one level or another and probably all of us have put ourselves in a situation to have the living daylights scared out of us. Whether it’s a scary movie or a walk through a live haunted house, each of us has known the adrenaline pumping fear that makes you wonder why on earth you’d ever do something like that again! But we do. Because after it’s over, we laugh a little, we joke about how freaked out we were or we lie and try to convince our friends that we spilled water on our pants during the movie...
Some terrors are fun like that -- they come and go and we can laugh about them. Others, not so much. Like the terror of hearing a doctor say, “I’m sorry sir, you have cancer” or the sick feeling of answering the door when the police chaplain informs you that your son was just killed in a car accident. There’s the terror my friend Sarah experienced when her mom and young brother were gunned down in cold blood, right in front of her. And then there’s my friend “Julie” who popped into a convenience store to grab a cold coke, only to return to her car and find a rapist waiting for her as she buckled herself in. He mercilessly abused her, not once, but twice. These nightmares you never laugh at. These horrors you can’t just press the stop button or get up and walk away from -- they are very real and they stay with you as long as you live.
When I talk about living the Overboard life, a life spent out of the comfort of the boat and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom, I know it’s a life that is filled with potential terror. I sometimes worry that if I keep following God out onto the water, something bad is going to happen. I worry about my wife and kids. Honestly, I worry about me because I know what a baby I am when it comes to pain and loss and suffering. I’m not worried that He is a bad God or that He has some bent towards making life miserable, I just know that my choice to follow Him will be an opportunity for my own will to be tested; my own resolve to be questioned. it’s easy to say “I follow Jesus” when you stay in the comfort of the boat and risk nothing; it’s another thing entirely to grab the sides of the boat and jump and put my commitment, daily, to the test. Part of the fear of writing a book like Project Joseph is the reality that God requires all of His children to walk in faith a path of pain if we are to become more like Him -- I have to actually live out those principle I espouse!
That kind of faith -- the kind that radically changes how we live -- stares terror in the eye and doesn’t back down. I’m not saying faith eliminates terror, but rather, conquers it. Faith is a certainty that what is not certain to the human eye, is indeed certain. The writer of Hebrews says it this way:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see -- Hebrews 11:1
In other words, although I cannot see God physically -- I know the evidence demands His existence and His Word requires His work -- I still step out and trust that He is all He claims to be. When the terror and fear of this world compels me to live anything but the life He calls me to, I am reminded that “greater is He that is in me, then He that is in the world” -- He will give me what I need to make through anything. But I must trust Him.
The Overboard life isn't for the faint of heart, and yet it is for all of God's children! Therefore by faith we must step out, trusting Him to make us more than we could ever be by ourselves.
Go ahead and take the plunge of faith -- life is better on the water!